Sunday, November 2, 2008

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow don't be alarmed now...

Today, a photographic vignette of Bethy and Thomas wending their way through a hedge maze at Safa Park. Today I feel happy and a bit lazy, because yesterday I had culture shock. Right on schedule. There is no doubt about it. I was feeling isolated, completely overwhelmed and helplessly weepy. In other words, completely out of character, and for no particular reason. I was prickly the day before, and annoyed with myself about it, then ker-wham, sobsville. Yuck. It was like being sideswiped by bad pregnancy hormones. I was crying in front of the kids(!), to Mike on the phone(!!!), just wanted to crawl into a hole. I wasn't homesick per se, I just didn't want to be anywhere. Fortunately I had already arranged for a friend to come over and watch the kids for me while I went out for a 20 minute run in the sun in the afternoon, and that's all it took to pull me back out. (Let's hope I'm done with it!) Reading up on culture shock, and what wives in particular go through, I'd say I was lucky. Very lucky. I wasn't hating the country or the people for being different, which I hear is very common. I credit Dubai and its openness and beauty for that. One of Graham's sons was visiting from the UK on school break, (I believe he attends University) and I asked him about growing up in Dubai. "Oh, it was hard," he said. Really? What was hard about it? I asked. "Moving back to England!" he grinned. There certainly are expats here who I'm afraid will never be happy. They are stuck in racist and angry attitudes and can't seem to get to acceptance that this place is different. I hear bitter comments about "those people" or "this place" now and then. Interestingly, I have yet to hear a word against Emiratis. Against Brits, Indians, Filipinos, or Americans, you betcha. The traffic, the heat, the cost of living, and so forth. Not normal kibitzing. Real anger. Which is too bad, because Dubai is one heck of a ride! Interestingly, the friend who came over said "Oh, how you're feeling, that must be from me, that's my fault, I am feeling the same way." She's boarding a plane for home this morning.


halfbreed said...

my father used to love to travel to the mideast... he stayed in a hotel and told the concierge how he enjoyed the call to prayer, she acted surprised and said, "really?" stating most visitors from the western world, complained about the repeated wake-ups.

i truly admire your ability to embrace where you are at, for what it is. it seems at times that can be a rare quality.

hope your culture shock eases.

love you lady.

Natalie said...

Thank you Viola. The call to prayer is lovely. Here is something I just read in Life of Pi by Yann Martel:
"What's your religion about?" I asked him.
His eyes lit up. "It is about the Beloved," he replied.
I challenge anyone to understand Islam, its spirit, and not to love it. It is a beautiful religion of brotherhood and devotion.

I cannot even pretend to have more than the most basic understanding of what it means to be a Muslim, but I cannot imagine not honoring people's devotions and prayers, regardless of my own background and beliefs. Why go somewhere exotic and insist on mentally staying at home? Silly people.

No worries, the little run and Mike's thoughtful care seem to have been a tonic for what ailed me. Again, I find myself very fortunate.

I had horrible food poisoning last week, and I'd take that over feeling the way I did yesterday any time.

Thanks for your kind encouragement and compliments. They mean a lot coming from a sensitive smart gal like yourself.

Cathy O. said...

I unearthed your blog one day with a search for "dubai" and "garden". I'm enjoying reading your experiences because we are East Coast Americans who moved to Dubai in August. I know exactly how you are feeling with the culture shock. Some days I am just fine and happy, and other days the water works are on. I am hoping to join the Predictor Run one of these days, but it has been about a year and half since I have been running, so I need to work up to it a bit. Anyway, I hope you are having a better day today. At least the weather is getting nicer!

Natalie said...

(in addition to the email I sent to Cathy O.)

Well, you know, just in case there was another fit of culture shock somewhere in the future for me, I went and had a nice manicure (the first here, and what, fourth of my life?) and a Costa Coffee. I figure, now I am prepared for whatever life throws at me. (Bold words, I know.) :) Hey, I have a plan, albeit a Natalie plan.

Julia said...

I think it is a challenge and a strength to be able to accept people and places for what they are, instead of clinging to the past of where you were. Unfortunately, many people don't feel that way..that's why they eat at McDonalds wherever they go..... I don't even like eating McDonalds in the States.

sherrip said...

Amen, Julia!

Anonymous said...

Look no further than your pictures here. Your secret garden plan. Here in Seattle I read a
Faith and Value from Eileen Kiera , Dharma teacher.
Her friend had cancer, "she literally recollect herself,remembering all of who she was, all of what she had experienced, all of what she loved and all the people who mattered in her life. She remembered it all as part of her and began living from a fullness of life that is always available to each of us in each moment.
She dropped fixed ideas about herself, her situation, her life and even her death, and began to live each moment anew
Each morning's sunrise warmed her as if it was her first sunrise......She said it was the gift of remembrance, a remembrance from the fullness of who she was that left nothing out- that included the pleasant along with the unpleasant. In this remembaring she found her life.

She touched the joy of the red-winged blackbird arriving at her bird feeder in the dark days of January and she felt the winds of Puget Sound. She gave the gift of rememberance to us as well. She gave us the rememberance of cherishing the people we love, right now, even in the midst of the clatter of dishes being washed. ..She gave us the gift of remembering the preciousness of each moment and the knowledge that we choose how to greet each one... When she opened herself to the first rose in June it bloomed in her heart, and when she smiled at the doctor , they both felt courage.

Trev died this July. She smiled with death, ..And now every time I remember to let the breeze kiss my cheek, or to smile with love at my spouse,I remember Trev ,perhaps I should say she is here in the moment with me."
All this just to say I think you do what we all should do live in wonderment, leaving to a new place is morning also, but rememberance can get you there.-and I just know the writer in you would like these kind words to a friend!